Unfortunately for the Founding Fathers, they were all dead and gone before “The Princess Bride” hit movie theaters.
Nonetheless, I think Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and their pals who penned the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that were soon attached to it would agree with Mandy Patinkin’s character Inigo Montoya.
When Vizzini continually used the word “inconceivable” to describe situations, Patinkin’s character looked at him and said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Gun toters misinterpret the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms to mean anyone can carry any gun they choose, anywhere they choose, anytime they choose.
Likewise, people whose mouth runs a few seconds ahead of their brains misinterpret the First Amendment.
For every stupid comment, you hear people say, “I have a First Amendment right to free speech.” That is true. You can say any despicable thing you want and not go to jail for it. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be fired from your job, lose all your friends or even be removed from office if you were elected.
The First Amendment protects you from government intervention, not all consequences.
Arguments about racism seem to create the most unfortunate comments and thus, the greatest number of incorrect claims of protection.
One prominent example of this is an Oklahoma County Deputy Assessor’s Facebook post about the Ferguson riots last week.
Larry Stein, the Oklahoma County deputy assessor, posted, “There hasn’t been this great of a racial divide in America since the 1850’s. Congrats to the thugs and animals in Ferguson.”
Stein caught some heat for his comments about rioters being “thugs and animals.”
What is this world coming to when a man who works in a government office in a county with a large percentage of black people can’t call black people thug and animals without everyone getting upset?
Once Stein’s comment went viral, he did what all idiots who say horrible things do. He grabbed a fresh copy of the Bill of Rights and proceeded to trample all over what it really means.
“I have removed my private personal thoughts, shared on a webpage, that proves some people have very thin skin and may try to bully those who speak things they don’t like to hear. The First Amendment, the freedom of speech and religion, is for everyone,” Stein said, somehow thinking the First Amendment protects him from people becoming angry at his words. “National radio talk show hosts and many others used the same word to reference the lawless, Ferguson rioters and law breakers. Great thinkers have written, ‘Without laws, men are just animals.’ This type of lawless behavior is terrible and the same term would apply to everyone who is lawlessly rioting and destroying personal property, it’s the lack of character, just as Dr. King warned. Lawlessness, rioting and mob rule are always wrong. If someone was offended by the use of the term, do they support the rioters actions and oppose the First Amendment? If someone wants to deny my Free Speech rights guaranteed in the constitution, that is appalling. When can we expect Dr. King’s dream to become a reality, judging people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin?”
I don’t know where to start. Yes I do. Stein should have removed the post and gone on a nice vacation. When he got back, people would have forgotten who he was.
But no, Stein had to come at us with quotes by both “great thinkers” and Martin Luther King Jr. I think it might behoove Stein to keep King’s name out of his mouth.
Apparently, Stein heard parts of the “I have a dream” speech and became a racial philosopher. I did a little searching and wasn’t able to find which “great thinker” said that without laws, men are animals. Maybe he was trying to quote the pigs in “Animal Farm” who believe “some animals are more equal than others.” I don’t know.
What I do know is that the First Amendment means a cop won’t be arresting Stein at his office for his words. Whether he still has an office to go to is another story.
A few St. Louis Rams also used their First Amendment rights when they showed a little support for the protests of the grand jury decision not to prosecute Darren Wilson for shooting and killing Michael Brown. A handful of Rams mimicked the “hands up, don’t shoot” sign when they came onto the field Sunday.
The St. Louis police weren’t impressed with that support.
They said Wilson had been cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting of the unarmed black teen who allegedly attacked him in his car before being shot 150 feet (or 50 yards in football terms) away from the initial altercation.
“I'd remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser's products. It's cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do,” said SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda said in the statement. “Somebody needs to throw a flag on this play. If it's not the NFL and the Rams, then it'll be cops and their supporters.”
The NFL could fine the players for the gesture. It wouldn’t be the first gesture to draw the interest of the NFL.
The Supreme Court will decide soon about what constitutes protect speech on social media and what is evidence of criminal intent.
The Supreme Court has considered “true threats” to be unprotected speech for decades. But there have been many exceptions for political hyperbole and other cases.
A Pennsylvania man claims he didn’t mean to threaten anyone when he quoted rap lyrics after a bad relationship breakup that said, “There is one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from the all the little cuts.”
I was wondering what I should put on this year’s Christmas card.
His ex-wife and the police and courts have agreed that the Facebook post was a threat.
When an FBI agent asked the man about his threats, he decided he would go back on Facebook and post about that incident as well.
“Little agent lady stood so close, took all the strength I had not to turn her into a ghost,” he wrote. “Pull my knife, flick my wrist and slit her throat.”
The man thinks the First Amendment protects this type of speech. I do not think the First Amendment means what he thinks it means.